Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopian Airlines’

First off, two fingers in the air for period pain if you’re a lady reading this; it’s 4.40am and I’ve been up now for close to an hour because my belly is talking to me in ways I’m sure can be nicer and definitely less painful! In fact, can I get two fingers in the air from the guys as well, for obvious reasons? Done? Thank you very much.

Now that I’m awake, I started reflecting on a lot of things and first off is my round ups should be a lot more frequent! So I’ll work on that. A quick second is that I am blessed. Like, God has really crowned my year with good things, things money can buy, and the things money cannot buy. Especially the things money cannot buy! So grateful.

My niece turned six months old yesterday, and she’s an absolute beauty. Gosh! Just watching her grow, all the developments we’ve seen and continue to see, and her smiles. Sweet baby Jesus my niece’s smile can melt ice! Thank you God for such a gorgeous, healthy, happy baby!

In other baby news, our flu has cleared! So for three weeks or more Talia and I were coughing, runny noses, etc. Like cough syrup after cough syrup, one antibiotics course after the other, the flu refused to clear. At some point it occurred to me we were probably just re-infecting ourselves, lol. Glad to announce that we’re both fine now (the devil is put to shame once again, whoop)!

At the end of July I was invited to #TechPlus2016 to speak; had been pencilled down for two panels – one on cyberbullying, internet security in the age of social media, and the other one on increasing digital literacy for women. Both panels featured very interesting panelists, and I enjoyed speaking about TechHer, things we do, lessons we’ve learned and how they intersect with the topics.

So my friend Nana was a panelist as well, and so we were in Lagos together. I’ll attempt to chronicle the trip.

First off, that morning our flight was scheduled for 9.30am, and I had a prior engagement for 7.15am on NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) to talk about social media, entrepreneurship, etc. As you can imagine I had to be up really early to pack, head to the station to say my piece, and then sped off to the airport… Found a really nice, safe, but quick cabbie to drive me, and of course we’d detailed one of our friends working at the airport to check us in.

He calls and says that our tickets were for the 22nd of August, not the 22nd of July. W-H-A-T? And so the calls began to the organizers, they called the travel agents who booked the flight, we spoke to the airline, plenty talk. From no seats on any flight that day, to none for our class of ticket, to rescheduling us to a 10am flight that got delayed till 1pm.

We went into a restaurant to wait and encountered a very rude, uncouth man. Fathers and mothers, train your sons. Some things are unacceptable, including raising your voice or trading insults. Am I perfect? No, but in the last few days I’ve met some very uncultured young men. It is shameful.

Anyway, we finally took off about 1pm, and got into Lagos safely (praise God for that). Soon as we touched down, we were in the able hands and care of the #TechPlus2016 team, and I must take a full moment to appreciate the warmth and stellar logistics ground team they had in place to cater to us.

Got to the hotel, checked in, and barely had enough time to freshen up and head to my first panel. Interesting, intimate, just the way I liked it. Was nice to bump into my brother Chude on the way in…always a joy to see that man.

Panel done, we explored the exhibition area and I was so impressed! As a child of God planning an exhibition for TechHer myself, there was so much to be impressed by! We will get there, and very soon! I copped a ring, some bangles, and some gorgeous fabric, and I can’t wait to see what my designer #NitazCouture does with it! Been a long time since a designer/seamstress/tailor excited me, and it’s so refreshing that Francesca, head honcho at #Nitaz not only knows her craft, she knows my body and what works. So great!

Next day was easy. My session was about 4pm but we went to Nana’s session at 2pm and wandered off into the exhibition area again. We attended a few other sessions, including one with Teju Ajani, Frank Donga, and a few other people. Interesting how content is so dynamic but totally reliant on the principle of relatability. Can people relate with what you’re going to put out as a producer or curator? If it’s a yes, you’re on the road to doing well!

Sunday morning I worshipped with Pastor Ituah Ighodalo’s church, Trinity House. Amazing! It was the sixth anniversary of the church, and I remember the prayer his wife led, both in thanksgiving and committing the rest of the year into God’s hands. God is amazing I tell you. I had a great time, and I must visit again. By the way, their choir is amazing! Something the choir sang resonated with me so much, “my status is changing, no more decline, I’m on my way to better days”. In Jesus name!

Then, it was a dash back to the hotel to grab our bags and head to the airport. Airline? Arik. And that means that is a totally different article by itself. I’ll write it!

Welcome back! Part one is here, and ended with me falling asleep, despite my best intentions to watch Minions!

Addis Ababa.

We disembarked, and I met up with Fatu and Shamsudeen who were going on to Kigali, and Japheth and Rotimi who would spend the night and meet us the next morning.

And then the struggle for WIFI began. I’d flown through Addis at least three times this year, and I knew the airport didn’t have WIFI. But, my companions said to ask one of the Customer Care agents and she pointed us to one connection that didn’t work. So we went to a café and they said if we bought stuff worth $30 ($10 each), they would let us connect one device each. Didn’t make sense either, so we walked around for a bit, and then it was time to get on our connecting flight.

Oh, before I forget, while we were waiting in the departure area, there was this guy playing music really loudly from his phone. Like, with every song, the music became louder. So, I brought out my Bose mini speakers, covered it with my poncho, connected it to my phone, and started playing Nigerian music. Turn up! Didn’t take long before the guy turned off his music. (I’m sorry!)

We boarded, took off and for some reason I was really hungry. Ate, went back to sleep (again movies were useless), and then interestingly I dreamt about the movie Raid on Entebbe. When I woke up, even more interestingly we’d landed at Entebbe to drop off some guys and pick some others. I told Shamsudeen we were in Uganda; he said we were in Kigali. I looked at the time and said we were more than an hour early to have landed in Kigali, but somehow he convinced Fatu and they both got off the plane.

Hian. I thought about it again, got out of my seat, and went to the door of the aircraft. I asked one of the hostesses and she confirmed we were indeed at Entebbe, and then I saw my friends standing there (by this time they’d found out they were in the wrong country), smiling (shaking my head).

Anyway, so we got back in our seats, and it was back to sleep for the hour-long flight to Kigali. We touched down at 2am.

Hello WIFI! Like, it was a bit like Frankfurt airport, where you’re spoiled for choice with WIFI. Apparently, there were a lot of us who’d come in, and after we finished with immigration, sorted our visas we got into buses and headed for our hotels. Mine, the beautiful Lemigo!

My room was reminiscent of the old bedchambers I’d seen in movies, so quaint, so warm, so beautiful. Want to see?

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Fit for my royal majesty!

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What a beauty! When I make up my own house I must have a bed like this…

By the way, there was a beautiful Bible on the bedside stool, and two packs of condoms in the drawer beneath it. Lol. I stayed awake long enough to take in the beauty of the room, and then it was lights out. Literally.

By the time I woke up, it was already time to head to the first of the sessions; rushed a bath, grabbed a bite (their food is gorgeous), and off to the meeting halls we went. God being super merciful, we were lodged in the same hotel the event was holding. Good stuff!

Potatoes, the sexiest sausages I've had in a while, and eggs. A bit of a tale with the eggs, communication, and language. I asked for egg whites with peppers only, even pointed them out to the chef. I got eggs with bacon. #StillGrateful #INeedToBrushUpMyFrench

Potatoes, the sexiest sausages I’ve had in a while, and eggs. A bit of a tale with the eggs, communication, and language. I asked for egg whites with peppers only, even pointed them out to the chef. I got eggs with bacon. #StillGrateful #INeedToBrushUpMyFrench

I thoroughly enjoyed the panels, listening to election issues and hindrances to youth and female participation across Africa. Interestingly, the problems are the same – high cost of participation, election funding, tokenism, lack of intergenerational trust and knowledge sharing, partial election umpires, patriarchy, I could go on and on. In that regard, can’t we say that Africa is a country? Up for discussion.

Then it was lunch time and after we said hello to a bunch of people (ticked off the ‘networking box’) we made our plates, and joined a table where one lady was spitting half her food out as she spoke. I was happy to leave the table. Urgh.

We got back into the sessions and Nana who was supposed to be up the next morning had been moved to that afternoon. Boy did she bring it! She spoke as a young female actively involved with a political party, and I was so proud. So very proud of the knowledge she brought to the panel, the confidence of her delivery, and the passion as she expressed truth after truth. So proud!

That night, we decided to go to the hotel gym. Brethren in Christ, it was an intense workout! According to my Polar, I burnt about 750kcal; very productive.

Dinner was a drag. I rang room service, ordered chicken and chips, and they said it’d be ready by the time we got downstairs. We got downstairs and it wasn’t ready so we waited. 30 minutes after we sent the first person to the chef, nothing. He didn’t even come back. I was irritated by this time cos I was hungry and the language barrier made communication a bit more difficult. Nana sent the second person to the chef but it seems the thing that swallowed the first guy swallowed this one too!

Of course we left. Ended up in a lounge called People’s and the music was off the chain! From Nigerian songs to the 90’s, to chart toppers, the video DJ (like audio wasn’t enough) dropped hit after hit, after hit! Turn up! Oh we had an amazing time, and I had two bottles of water instead of ordering food because I was distracted by the really great music, and it was really late anyway.

Got back to the hotel about 3am and the receptionist said my food was ready. Shaking my head! I just went to bed. Good night jor!

Do you remember one of the songs Donkey in Shrek 1 sang? The one he was singing and when Shrek said not to, he asked if he could whistle, then hum?

If you didn’t see Shrek (why on earth), or you’ve forgotten, or you still can’t place which song I’m talking about, it’s ‘on the road again’… And it’s my special way of announcing that I’m on the road again! Not literally though, cos there are at least 3 flights on this trip.

I’m off to Abidjan to attend a workshop organized by the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) and because putting your trust in some carriers is akin only to fetching water in a basket, I’m flying Ethiopian Airlines. Yes that means another overnight stopover in Addis Ababa, and hopefully more pleasant tales than last time.

So, as always, we start with the night before, and I didn’t get home till a few minutes to midnight because I was chasing a client who was chasing his peers so they wouldn’t change their minds about things, and people.

Nice time to segue into the inauguration of Nigeria’s 8th National Assembly on the 9th of June and the almost magical happenings that heralded the emergence of the leaders of both the upper and lower chambers.

We start from Senate President, Bukola Saraki who went from not even being in the running one night to getting elected unopposed the next morning. Let’s not forget the mysterious meeting 51 of the senators supposed to vote went to attend (which didn’t hold & now no one knows who called it)…

Then we go to the lower chambers where Femi Gbajabiamila who was already receiving congratulatory messages (everyone was that sure) lost the Speakership to Yakubu Dogara. 189 votes to 174. So close, yet didn’t happen.

Ok, we’ve digressed enough. By 8.30am, I still wasn’t sure what I’d be taking with me, and then to compound issues I didn’t remember where I dropped my Yellow Card. Hian! I panicked, I kid you not. I was so worried!

Just when I was searching my mind for anyone who worked in the ministry of health, God had mercy on me and I remembered where I left it from my March Jo’Burg trip. Thank you Lord!

Rushed through my packing, shower, and breakfast, then it was off to the airport. Made good time, and checked in without any issues.

Really? No issues Fairy GodSister? Lol… Like that was possible! So, it’s interesting but it appears our airport officials don’t know which countries we need visas for or not. Here’s why: so one of them asked me where I was headed, and I told him Addis Ababa enroute Abidjan. Then, flipping through my passport he goes “where are the visas?” Truth? I’ve done the Addis layover a couple times so I know I don’t need a visa for that. Never been to Cote d’Ivoire though, and it just hit me then that I didn’t know.

Next thing the official says I won’t be able to fly, I don’t have the visa I need, etc. Again, inner panic, outward, ‘I’m not even going to act bothered’ look. Again, it occurred to me I could Google (had to be the voice of God rescuing his silly daughter) and so I did, confirmed I didn’t need one, and promptly shut the official up. *big, wide smile*

Permit a little digression please. There’s something about knowing our rights both as a Christian and people resident on this planet. Otherwise, we will miss out on/get robbed of/be denied so much!!

Ok, so we boarded and glory be to God, my entire row was empty! Yaaaaaass! So I ate, drank the only can of coke I’m allowed, and watched Taken 3, and the modern remake of Annie.

So Taken 3 was lovely (as always) but fingers crossed this is the last in the series biko. Except they want to become the next Empire, or Scandal, and just tell us what days it will air.

I loved Annie too, can’t wait to lay my hands on the soundtrack. Can’t wait!

Got into Addis Ababa ok, and it was off to Empire Addis, a fabulous hotel not too far from the airport. Took the stairs to and from my room on the 5th floor because #FitFam, and after a bit of dinner, it was trying to get my brain to shut down so I could sleep. That didn’t happen till 2am. Sigh.

Out of the hotel and back at the airport by 8am for the onward leg to Abidjan, which is like going from Abuja to Lagos, then heading to Kaduna. Yes. But no flight from Abuja.

Ahhh. My inner lioness escaped today inside the duty free store. Everyone was queuing to pay (Addis has amazing deals on fragrances) and then this guy bounces to the front of the line. The attendants start putting his things through so I ask if the rest of us had nothing else to do. Then he says, “don’t speak to me like that, you don’t know me”. Loooool… Let’s just say, he was pleading by the time I was done defining queues and how they help us maintain order in this world.

And then I boarded. And we took off. And seven hours later, we touched down in Abidjan, where I’ve met folks from The Gambia, Liberia, South Africa, Cameroon, etc. Promises to be an exciting 48 hours of brainstorming strategies around civic engagement, participation in the electoral process, and citizens taking charge of governance. Can’t wait!

Sometime in February I got an email from someone representing some people I’ve been writing for for a little while, inviting me to a Roundtable Discussion in March. First off, I didn’t see the time to attend (was that busy I promise you). Second, I wasn’t sure if it was a hoax. So I clicked ‘maybe’ on the calendar invite and let it go.

Two days to the day when we were supposed to indicate by I got a reminder and then I read the email properly! Somehow I just said I’d like to attend. And then boom, invitation letter, choosing a flight path, any dietary requirements, all of that started to happen.

This is the chronicle of my first ever trip to South Africa, noting of course the trip (to and fro), the people, the food, the event itself, and any other business. Ready for it? Let’s start with,

The Prep!

So, I went to VFS to drop off my application, and there I found that my Yellow Card was expired (last time I needed it was in 2010) so I had to run off to the Ministry of Health, navigate the treacherous area (no thanks to road blocks and road diversions because of Boko Haram) and dash to get a new one. Dashed back to the Application Center and was told the processing would take 45 days. Lol… Even if I was trying to get into heaven! Let’s not even talk about the meeting being like 16 days away.

I got home, spoke to a friend who spoke to a friend, and I had my passport and visa back in 4 days. Boom. Thank you Lord!

Easy bit done.

The Trip!

The night before (Friday), I was at work till 9.45pm. Sigh (some days are like that). I got home, started packing, and dozed off (thankfully it was my little suitcase otherwise I’m sure I would have slept inside! Lol. I woke up at 1.50am to pee, and then changed my nail polish, finished my packing, went back to sleep.

At 9am, I joined Ismail and Seye to conduct interviews for a potential intern for the Abuja Hub of the Global Shapers. Very interesting time, even though I was shocked on many levels; that story is here.

Interview done, I dashed back home, flung my things in the cab, and dashed to the airport. VIKO car services need to up their response time walai. I’ve written about them before so I won’t waste space complaining but there’s no point saving 1000 or 2000 but gain high blood pressure because I’m trying to reach them or their driver! Final warning guys, SMH.

Brethren, do you know it’s easier to go to Europe than it is to travel to South Africa? Hian! First off, they looked through my passport, asked for my invitation, return ticket, hotel booking, etc., and then let me go check in (that’s never been done for me, ever). While all of this was going on (I had to get the hotel reservation I was sent off my laptop), some guy walks up to me and starts mumbling about needing my help. I asked what the issue was and he said his BTA wasn’t enough. When it clicked that BTA = money I was like huh? Then he says if I don’t give him money to make up his BTA he wouldn’t be able to travel, that he needed a thousand dollars. Lol. I smiled, and just walked away.

Later, I spoke to an official who told me that South African Immigration are famous for deporting people, and the cost is borne by the home country, plus a fine, all in dollars. So, it’s only natural that they are extra vigilant with people headed there. Especially for people who aren’t frequent fliers. So they wouldn’t be letting that guy fly. Eh ya.

Finished checking in, and went upstairs. Now, my time in SA was literally for 48 hours so all I had was my hand luggage which I didn’t check in. The lady searching my box in the departure lounge had whispered about ‘something for the weekend’ but I didn’t smile or acknowledge that in any way. Then she says I need to drop my perfumes etc, and what can WE do about it. Lol. I asked her to close my box, quietly went downstairs, checked it in, and came back. This time, she wasn’t smiling. Lol. SMH.

Now, I’d asked that my flight be booked through Addis Ababa each way, only because I wanted a richer story. Other options were to go to Lagos and fly direct via South African Airlines but that didn’t sound as interesting.

Then we boarded. My neighbour wouldn’t keep quiet, even after I put my headphones on. Why do people do this? He would tap me to say something, I’d reply, put my headphones back on, only for him to tap me again! Sigh.

Ahh. The butter was sexy. I remember it as I type; shame I didn’t note the name or anything. Want to see a photo?

Now that I look at it, the salad was lovely too!

Now that I look at it, the salad was lovely too!

So that’s one! Let’s look to parts two and three and four!

Do you have obnoxious friends? People who think it’s their God given preserve to be the life of the party, the ‘e’ in entertainment when you guys are together? Do you have friends who crack jokes and even if they delivered the punch line over and over again, it still wouldn’t be funny? I mean, even if you wanted to laugh because the person was your buddy, you wouldn’t find it in you! In all my fairy years I’ve had quite a few like that; these days I don’t feel bad when I dodge them.

Today, I have a joke; it’s fairly long so I’ll need you to concentrate; no use making me deliver the punch lines more than once. Agreed?

My friend’s father who is closer to 60 than he is to 50, told us that when he was in secondary school (about 35 years ago), General Obasanjo and co visited his school and told them they were the leaders of tomorrow. 35 years after, and people are still thanking God the 3rd (and maybe lifetime) presidency Obasanjo was denied him.

In a few months Nigeria will be 50 years old; there is no national carrier (land, air or sea); there is nothing that has not been sold, privatized or liquidated. Ethiopia’s Ethiopian Airlines is the largest single employer of labor in the country, paying salaries of more than 5300 staff.

In the last 10 years, industries like Coca Cola, Dunlop, Michellin, etc have removed their factories from Nigeria to smaller African countries because there is neither light, water nor other enabling infrastructure to run these businesses. Nigeria on the other hand is spending millions on international media begging or foreign investors. We’re had presidents who spent more time outside than inside the country, all in the name of wooing foreign investors. Foreign investors like Halliburton and Siemens?

Our government says education should be/is free and compulsory for primary and secondary, noble. What kind of education are we bequeathing to our children if they have to sit on the floor in windowless and doorless classrooms where they get beaten by severely underpaid, frustrated and sometimes inefficient teachers who keep hearing their reward is in heaven? And yet, our rulers send their own kids to daycares in Europe and the Americas! What can the kids here possibly learn; they don’t even wear socks to school!

Between 1960 and today, reports show that over 400 billion dollars has been embezzled by our rulers. In a country of approximately 150million people, 1% of the total population has pocketed has squandered that amount.  Write it out, count the zeros, and let’s see how funny that is.

By the way, one of the most over flogged phrases in Nigeria today is, ‘we are fighting corruption’. We’ve been ‘fighting corruption’ as a nation since 1960 but up till 2005 when the EFCC was founded (and I must add that not because Obasanjo wanted it but because Nigeria had been given a deadline to set up a financial crimes agency), not one person had been accused, tried and convicted (in that order) on corruption charges.

The minimum wage was recently increased to N7500; that is N30, 000 in four months. I remember the governor of the state that had the godfather of amala politics saying that his state couldn’t afford it. Yet our representatives at the National Assembly are bickering because they want their salaries (or allowances) to rise to N42, 000, 000 in four months.  42million naira or doing what, Royal Rumble? Or maybe some of them moonlight for World Wrestling Foundation.

Let’s take the jokes up a notch shall we? Nigeria plans to spend 10billion naira on the Nigeria @ 50 celebrations this year; I couldn’t find out if the logistics or the 155 people Mr. President took to the United Kingdom for a Nigerian summit came from that budget or if it came from the money-we-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-so-lets-waste-it fund. 10billion naira…. that money can easily put a brand new laptop in the hands of every undergraduate in Nigeria; that money can sink boreholes in every community in a state, build them functional hospitals, standard primary schools, and still have change! 10billion naira is 100million naira multiplied by 100! I’m laughing my heart out!

Still on money, Nigeria wants to be like America; as a matter of fact, we want to be like everyone else but ourselves. Of course it’s all talk but that’s not the funny part. The President of America earns 250, 000 dollars in a year, that’s 1 million dollars in four years. A Nigerian Senator (not the President), earns 1.5million dollars in one year; that’s 6million dollars in four years (and more if they stay a second term). Six million dollars is the Gross Domestic Product of some small West African countries! In the hands of one man? Haba! Then we get surprised when they misbehave?

The jokes get even funnier, but they’re on us now. Do you know the name of the councillor o your ward? The name of your local government chairman? The name of the person representing your constituency? How many no’s did you get?

Do you have a voter’s card?  How many people in your family do? Which politician is offering your people money to rig the coming elections for him?

How can we hold our leaders accountable if we don’t even know who they are? How do we change the cadre of leadership if we consciously exclude ourselves? How can enough be enough if we cannot (and of our own making) vote? Why we do we scream ourselves hoarse complaining about everything going south and deny ourselves the opportunity to change it?

What’s your plan, are you going to register, scrutinize, vote, and protect that vote? Are you going to do something? Because the truth is, this 50 year old joke has gone stale, and we are no longer laughing.

Ok! It’s a beautiful day! Yes it is, despite the fact that Israel is taking some heat from the United Nations et al because of their invasion of the Flotilla (which I must say is baseless because which ship carrying ‘humanitarian aid’ will also have metal rods, stun guns, and pipes on it)? Let’s not even start with the disparity in the stories of the activists on board the ship.

It’s still a beautiful day, beautiful start to the first month this second half of the year, despite the fact that the 52 year old taxi driver in Cumbria, England woke up and decided to shoot and kill 13 people (including himself); despite the fact that BP’s latest plan to contain the mega oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t working; despite the fact that IBB (in his ‘wisdom’) said MKO should be immortalized; despite the varying levels of craziness going on in our world, it’s still a beautiful day. Want to know why?

It’s a beautiful day because you’re alive to see this! Are you not aware of people (who you may not be necessarily better than) who didn’t make it to today? Ok, even though they are alive, don’t have the presence of mind to read this?  Take a minute, and say thank you to the Fairy Godfather…have you? Good! Now we can move on. Another reason today’s a beautiful day? Well my cold is finally easing up (thank you FGF) and I’m getting ready for my Ndjamena via Addis trip later today, yay!

Ok, fast forward to after we had checked in, passed immigration and headed for the departure lounge (powered by MTN…believe me that’s what was written there)! To get to the lounge we had to do close to a 30minutes walk! Since this fairy is as fit as a fiddle, I didn’t feel a thing; I’ll just try not to do it too many times! We got there, I settled in and started replying mails, facebooking, etc and may I use this opportunity to thank everyone who chatted and kept me company, especially since the flight was delayed a bit.

The fun started after we boarded. Just for sitting I was given a glass of lovely orange juice. Minutes after we took off I was given more juice and biscuits and then the hostess brought the menu with a somewhat plastered smile on her face (by the way, Ethiopian ladies are pretty). While I was still deciding which would be the lesser of the many evils listed on the menu, another nice looking lady brought me a small bowl of very colorful food in a tray, ‘something to start with’, she said. I recognized items that make a salad in one of the bowls, tasted it and it was nice. I tried eating something else that looked like bacon (which I love) but alas! It was raw, fishy, and had a faint lingering taste of red wine. I would find later that it was salmon, yuck! Seemed like the worst ended with the starters however because I enjoyed everything else, especially the passion fruit mousse I had for dessert. Then they served fruits and minutes later asked if I wanted tea. No!!! Is this a flight or did I mistakenly board a mobile fattening room?

Away from food (one of my favorite topics), I noticed that one of the hostesses wasn’t wearing a uniform like the others but a white dress with something that looked like it was gotten from a pashmenya or aso oke at the hem on the scarf draped round her shoulders. Miss inquisitive asked what the separation was for and she said all the hostesses had outfits like that that they wore on days assigned something about showcasing their national colors and things. ‘Nice, I thought, Nigeria could do something like that; we’d just have to own an airline (and fully too)! Did I mention that Ethiopian Airlines is the single largest indigenous employer in the country, paying salaries of close to 6000 staff? And yes, its 100% government owned, not privatized or managed by foreigners!

Sometime during the flight the pilot came to the business class lounge to talk to someone; at that moment the person beside me woke up and asked; ‘is that not the pilot there’? I said yes and he said, ‘he should better go back to the cockpit o, who did he leave the place for’? Truth is, if he wasn’t white, I would have thought he was Nigerian; we’re the ones always abandoning our constituencies to frolic everywhere else.

I saw a lovely movie (Valentine’s Day) and boy was I grateful I didn’t pay to see it before I left! Just as I was getting done, it was to time to get down (meaning that we had reached Addis Ababa, and safely too)!

Big fast forward to the second leg of the trip (Addis to N’Djamena) where I’m praying that the loud mouth beside me takes the hint that I’m furiously writing and leave me alone! Where is peace and quiet when you need it?

To start with, I’m majorly pissed off that I’m flying economy (apparently everyday isn’t Christmas), I didn’t get the window or aisle seat and to compound issues, I’m starving and the guy has foul breath! By the way, have you ever been tortured by hunger and foul breath at the same time? It’s painful I promise you, the kind of pain you wouldn’t even wish an enemy! Did I mention that he didn’t know more than 50 words in English? And he wasn’t cute neither!

‘Leave me alone, I don’t want to chat’, for where? The son of God took the pains to tell me he’s a commissioner  in N’Djamena. A commissioner seated in economy? Yeah right. In Nigeria he’d buy the plane! Apparently sensing my unbelief, the man brought out a dossier from his portmanteau and flipped through the papers inside; taking care that I’d be able to see the Chadian logos splashed all over the papers (so yes I looked). Then he asked if I was Cameroonian; ‘no, I’m proudly Nigerian’ I said. I realized I shot myself in the foot when his face lit up at my answer and he started boasting about being in Nigeria our years ago to build the edifice that is the Embassy of Chad. Edifice? Pigs may fly too!

That’s when I started writing but no, Mr. Architect had sworn on his president’s passport that he wouldn’t let me be! He said he was going to N’Djamena for a meeting and then return to Addis, I nodded; he said he was tres tres busy man, I nodded; he said……. I said I wanted to use my headphones to find out what music choices I had, and he smiled. I chuckled inside me, sure that I was too fast for him to understand a word of what I said. That bought me like 20minutes, 20 uninterrupted minutes that I was grateful to the Fairy Godfather for. I was bobbing my head to something from Timberland; opened my eyes to catch my commissioner neighbor with his headphones on too, nodding to some music too. I was happy for him (thankful for world peace too) till I saw that he didn’t plug in the cord! My word! What was he listening to then? Did I have a good laugh or what!

Did I mention that my seat refused to recline? How much worse could things get? Fortunately, again I watched a couple movies plus the flight wasn’t too long so it didn’t hurt as much.

Before I forget, just before the plane took off (it was already taxiing as a matter of fact), another young man stood up and said he wanted to use the convenience. The person in the seat next to him told him to wait till we were in the air but homeboy refused. Two hostesses came, told him he had to wait and then he said he would stand by the toilet. Of course they refused, and got their supervisor to ‘usher’ him back to his seat. After we had steadied in the air, they came to tell him he could go but he said he wouldn’t because he was hurt. Hurt? People like this make me thank the FGF my dreams of becoming an air hostess haven’t come true (yet)!

I daresay the flight to N’Djamena was full of characters, almost felt like I was on Drama Central! Seated around me was a man I had heard shouting at one of the hostesses earlier; I found out he had paid for ten seats. Those ten seats catered to two wives, a grandmother, and over 50 children! I know I’m exaggerating but honestly I lost count especially since they all looked alike (facially and in stature too), didn’t stay in their seats (which I can bet they sat like 6 to 1), and didn’t speak a word of English! I imagined how much the trip cost him and I smiled; what if he had bought business class tickets for all of them?

By the way, selamta is Ethiopian for welcome………